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John George Van Deusen P'43

Professor Emeritus of American History
1928-1960

John Van Deusen came to the Colleges in 1928 as an assistant professor of history and rose to full professor in 1936, at which point he became chair of the department of American history. He is considered by many as one of HWS' finest professors and scholars from the first half of the 20th century, noted for being ahead of his time in thinking about race relations for his book, "Black Man in White America," as well as 11 additional books. His research includes major emphasis on the role of the African American man in politics and the life of President Abraham Lincoln. During his time at the Colleges, he served as the coach of the Debate Team and helped the team win almost three-quarters of their debates during the more than six years he coached them. He was the founder of Pi Gamma Mu, a social science honor society, and Tau Kappa Alpha, an honorary forensic society. He retired in 1960 after 32 years at the Colleges. Van Deusen earned a B.A. and M.A. from Ohio State University and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Prior to coming to the Colleges, he taught in secondary schools and at Columbia University. In 1928, he was appointed by the Rockefeller Foundation to study African American life and history, a project on which he worked intermittently for three years.